X-Men (2000)
X-Men (2000)

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.

Release Date: July 14th, 2000 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Bryan Singer Actors: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Ray Park, Tyler Mane, Bruce Davison

 


 

“M

utation … it is the key to our evolution.” Every so often, despite normally taking centuries, mutations leap forward, resulting in seemingly supernatural abilities in humans. Superhumans, as it were. And these mutants, though generally disguised among familiar civilizations, can choose to expose their “gifts,” serving either good or evil.

In Poland in 1944, a young Jewish boy exhibits just such occult capabilities when he’s separated from his parents by Nazi soldiers. And not too long afterwards, in Meridian, Mississippi, a high school girl experiences her own difficulties with blossoming mutant powers. Mankind is entering another stage in human evolution, predominantly beginning during puberty and triggered by traumas or stresses, which strikes fear into the souls of normal people. In present day, when Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) pushes for nationwide mutant registration, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is particularly concerned. His secretive school for mutants could be targeted for violence and hate crimes. Longtime friend Eric Lensherr (Ian McKellen), who harbors his own mutations, has lost all hope in humanity, opting instead to let the strongest of them inherit the Earth.

When mutant Marie, using the alias Rogue (Anna Paquin), journeys to Canada, she encounters a cage-fighter named Logan, the “Wolverine” (Hugh Jackman), who just can’t be beat thanks to his own concealed superpowers. But his successes in the ring don’t help with his integration into society; he’s a loner, suffering from amnesia surrounding his early life, and frequently regarded as a freak. After an ambush by Eric’s henchman Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), Rogue and Wolverine are rescued by Scott Summers (James Marsden) and Ororo Munroe (Halle Berry, the one truly weak link, as her acting and pseudo-accent never fit with the rest of the cast) – just two of the costume-clad warriors (and teachers) at Xavier’s New York institution (“Welcome to Mutant High”), which additionally houses a Batman-like, subterraneous chamber of hi-tech gadgetry. It’ll be up to all of them to join forces to stave off the forthcoming war between mutant and man, which is scheduled to be initiated by Eric and his thugs (including Toad [Ray Park] and Mystique [Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, virtually nude in her natural form, save for a few scales and blue paint], members of the terrorist group Brotherhood of Mutants) at the upcoming UN World Summit.

“This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” That’s a tough line to include in a picture that continually pushes audiences’ suspensions of disbelief. Nevertheless, the acting is quite effective, as the various players take the plot rather seriously, even when it becomes overly silly. Due to the uncanny strengths and agilities of the mutants, a lot of wirework and other special effects interfere with the already unbelievable aspects, further contributing to a fantasy that intermittently struggles to remain reasonable during its more colorful moments. Plus, due to advancing yet imperfect CG technology, plenty of unconvincing computer animation also surfaces. Amusingly, to stave off criticism of the source material’s vivid costumes, here the characters don mostly black.

Fortunately, “X-Men” doesn’t rely solely on spectacle, though there’s an abundance of that, especially with the diverse superheroes, the (sometimes) creative ways in which they’re depicted, and the continual action sequences that highlight extraordinary combatants engaging in destructive skirmishes (as well as plenty of repetition, goofy pose-striking, and at least one very bad one-liner). Witty banter and humanizing conversations are plenteous, along with an amusing love story (or love triangle) involving surprisingly ordinary Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), plus father/daughter and father/son relationships that feel genuine. Ultimately, the story serves as a parable for intolerance, xenophobia, and us-versus-them mentalities – themes that are perpetually relevant and potent, regardless of the years that pass or the innovative, modernized ways in which they’re camouflaged.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10


The X-Men Franchise


X-Men (2000)

X2: X-Men United (2003)

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

X-Men: First Class (2011)

The Wolverine (2013)

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Deadpool (2016)

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

Logan (2017)

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Dark Phoenix (2019)